NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–23 February 2010 – More than 60,000 people in earthquake-devastated Haiti have been vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and other diseases, but additional teams are urgently needed to wrap up this immunization campaign, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.
Agency spokesperson Paul Garwood said that the campaign that kicked off on 16 February has so far reached some 62,000 people, or 10 per cent of the target population.
Local staff trained by the Health Ministry, along with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are also helping to administer the immunizations, he said.
Mr. Garwood also noted that there have been no recorded increases in outbreaks of infectious diseases. Respiratory infections are the main cause of illness, he told reporters in Geneva, followed by trauma, injury, diarrhea and suspected malaria cases.
At the same press conference, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) named sanitation as one of its main priorities for the 1 million people displaced by the 12 January earthquake, which claimed more than 200,000 lives.
According to its spokesperson, Marc Vergara, the agency and its partners plan to install over 10,000 latrines by April and more than 20,000 in the coming six months.
Prior to the 7.0-magnitude earthquake, just under 20 per cent of the 9 million-strong Haitian population had access to latrines.
Mr. Vergara said that UNICEF has also rented 1,000 portable toilets to be accessed by over 110,000 people, on top of the 2,600 latrines already in place.
Additionally, UNICEF has signed an agreement with a local NGO for 1,200 young people to build 1,000 sanitation blocs comprising latrines, showers and handwashing areas.
For its part, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the number of people who had fled the city hardest hit by the earthquake, the capital, Port-au-Prince, has risen to nearly 600,000.
An estimated 160,000 people have left the capital for the area near Haiti’s border with the Dominican Republic, seeking refuge with already poor host families whose household numbers have swelled from 5 to 10-15 people as a result, OCHA spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs said.
To date, around one third of those who lost their homes in the earthquake – over 330,000 people – have received emergency shelter material, and a top priority now is to address the issues of drainage and waste management, she said.
On logistics, more than 3,000 people from more than 200 organizations, including UN agencies and media institutions, have used the UN Humanitarian Air Service between the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, and Port-au-Prince. The service has also delivered nearly 9,000 metric tons of relief supplies.
Ms. Byrs also announced today that the $1.44 billion revised humanitarian appeal launched last week by the UN and its aid partners – the largest ever in the wake of a natural disaster – is now nearly half funded.
At its launch in New York on 18 February, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the Haitian people’s resilience, patience and “solidarity amid almost inconceivable hardship,” renewing his vow to help the country recover and rebuild.
“Day by day, the humanitarian situation is improving,” he said. “Clearly, however, major needs have yet to be met.”